Flag Days — Caring for my Great-Grandfather Barnard’s Flag

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A few years ago I re­ceived the flag that was placed on my Great-Grandfather Barnard’s cas­ket when he died. He fought in World War I and was a POW, twice. The flag hadn’t been prop­er­ly cared for, stuffed in­to an old card­board box that was too small to hold it, along with a sheet of pa­per de­scrib­ing how to prop­er­ly care for the flag, and who is en­ti­tled to one at their fu­ner­al.

The doc­u­ment is cer­tain­ly pre-World War II, as it made men­tion of World War I, but noth­ing else. Discolored with age, and some­what brit­tle due to acid con­tent, the pa­per, in con­junc­tion with the an­cient card­board box, had stained the flag.

For sev­er­al years I tried to fig­ure out the best way to re­move the stains with­out harm­ing the flag it­self, which is at least 50 and per­haps as many as 90 years old. I want­ed to safe­ly re­move the stains, have it prop­er­ly fold­ed and put it in­to a flag case. I tried con­tact­ing the Cleveland Museum of Art to talk to a spe­cial­ist in tex­tile preser­va­tion, scout­ed around on­line & even Asked MetaFilter. I read fo­rums on flag eti­quette and ran across some some­what “ex­treme” views on what con­sti­tutes des­e­cra­tion of the flag (e.g. wash­ing it pe­ri­od). I didn’t find any­thing con­clu­sive or even some­what help­ful in deal­ing with a flag of ad­vanced age.

So I washed it. And the stains came out! And I when I spread it on my bed to dry, it cov­ered the whole bed, and then some. And I called my mom to tell her about it, and she asked how many stars were on it. And there are on­ly 48 stars on it! 6 rows of 8.

I end­ed up hav­ing to fold it my­self, and I did a pret­ty good job at it. The flag case I got for it was too large though & then the glass in it broke. I still don’t have some­thing to prop­er­ly put it in for dis­play or stor­age. But I feel a lot bet­ter know­ing that it has been suc­cess­ful­ly cleaned and is prop­er­ly fold­ed.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bruce Willis IS America (Pre-9/11, now it's Kiefer Sutherland)

A part of this view­ing listCriterion Collection Spine #40: Michael Bay’s Armageddon.

Despite the laugh­able fact that this movie is in­clud­ed in the Criterion Collection; and the al­most cer­tain fi­nan­cial & busi­ness-tac­ti­cal rea­sons for its in­clu­sion, I’m go­ing to try to re­view this film in good faith. This Michael Bay block­buster came out in 1998, and that’s im­por­tant, be­cause I can’t imag­ine a film like this be­ing made at all post-​9/​11. Yeah, I went there. The film is a self-con­grat­u­la­to­ry pro­jec­tion of America at the height of its pride, but be­fore it had got­tenth to the fall; an America that fan­cied it­self so in­vin­ci­ble that it could kick a Texas-sized asteroid’s ass in 18 days. An America with no prob­lems. This is a movie made in an America that had for­got­ten what it is like to be hum­bled. (And if you think it’s just co­in­ci­dence that the as­ter­oid is “Texas-sized”, you’re an id­iot).

Despite the not-so-laugh­able fact that the en­tire world is threat­ened by the as­ter­oid, the on­ly ones who can save the day are Americans. Americans who are ar­ro­gant dicks. (Redundant, I know.) America is the theme of this movie, not cos­mic an­ni­hi­la­tion. Most no­tice­ably, there are flags draped every­where, they are like sa­cred ta­pes­tries, and near­ly every scene is con­struct­ed to hon­or or pro­mote American-ness in some way. Plus, Bruce Willis; prob­a­bly the most stereo­typ­i­cal­ly “American” ac­tion hero. There’s noth­ing orig­i­nal here, the film is ba­si­cal­ly a HGH ver­sion of the played-out “can we dis­arm the bomb in time?” trope.

Armageddon might be the most quin­tes­sen­tial­ly American movie of the post-WWII era. Its ge­nius is that of an id­iot sa­vant, but be­cause this movie lacks any­thing ap­proach­ing self-aware­ness, the glo­ry of its brava­do & ob­vi­ous tack­i­ness cap­ture what it means to be American in the purest of terms. Michael Bay set out to make a block­buster about America’s big balls and suc­ceed­ed, but in his quest to present us with two hours of sub­con­scious mas­tur­ba­to­ry zeit­geist-stroking (there­by turn­ing us in­to lab rats who don’t even have to hit the crack but­ton) he man­aged to re­move any­thing vague­ly ap­proach­ing a com­pelling nar­ra­tive.  The movie is pablum; there is no there there, and that is the on­ly rea­son it is pos­si­ble to make the grandiose claims I’m mak­ing about this film. If you are a thought­ful per­son, let­ting the tits, ex­plo­sions, & smart-mouthed di­a­logue flow through you is like sit­ting zazen and pen­e­trat­ing through the im­pen­e­tra­ble mu of the American psy­che through the force of sheer baf­fle­ment. You will grasp for any sort of mean­ing and come up emp­ty, and at the ut­ter­most depth of your de­spair, when you sur­ren­der to the id­io­cy; en­light­en­ment. This film is the ar­che­type.

Brain Crumbs

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

I used to have a side­blog for one-offs, riffs and links, now that’s what Facebook is for. However, here are some things I picked up on, re­al­ized, or thought about over my trip to Indiana last week.

  • The first thing is one I’ve al­ways won­dered about: Why is the Yellow Freight Company’s lo­go or­ange?
  • I saw a big bill­board with a bald ea­gle and American flag that said “America — Bless God”. This doesn’t make any sense. America can’t bless God be­cause God is from whom all bless­ings flow. The top 3 hits for the phrase could gen­er­ate no end of cul­tur­al crit­i­cism writ­ing. I could go on, and would re­al­ly like to, but I’ll spare every­one.
  • It took over a year, but I’ve now trained my­self both phys­i­cal­ly and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly to eat small­er por­tion sizes. That means, on the oc­ca­sions that I pig out, I’m ac­tu­al­ly just eat­ing what Americans con­sid­er to be nor­mal por­tions. My weight fluc­tu­ates be­tween 178 & 182, and since when­ev­er I try to dip be­low that, my ap­petite goes in­to over­drive, I fig­ure that’s right where my body wants to be.
  • Picked up this sweet piece of fur­ni­ture for $70:

Antique Oak Dresser


Tuesday, 8 October 2002

i sup­pose i’m un-American. i don’t want war with Iraq. I see no mo­ti­va­tion for it apart from a fa­mil­ial grudge held by the man cur­rent­ly rec­og­nized as our the American pres­i­dent. i think the days of ram­pant die-hard na­tion­al­ism are past. i be­lieve it is time to fo­cus and con­cen­trate on a more glob­al scale. i’m not talk­ing about cor­po­rate glob­al­iza­tion which in my opin­ion is noth­ing more than American im­pe­ri­al­ism un­der a dif­fer­ent guise. i’m talk­ing about glob­al hu­man­i­tar­i­an­ism which of course is way too ide­al­is­tic at this point. I do think, how­ev­er, that it is high time we Americans at least start mov­ing in that di­rec­tion. Lord knows, much of the rest of the world is at­tempt­ing to. i read some­where that our the American gov­ern­ment has a $400 bil­lion bud­get for mil­i­tary spend­ing. i’m pret­ty sure that is more than would be re­quired to pro­tect our America’s own bor­ders. Instead, it is fo­cused on pro­tect­ing American ‘in­ter­ests,’ a con­ve­nient term which can be mold­ed to jus­ti­fy our American in­volve­ment any­where. America could be a re­spect­ed part of the world com­mu­ni­ty in­stead of feared be­cause of its pow­er if we it could just stop be­ing trig­ger-hap­py and re­al­ize that help­ing out oth­ers will help us America out in the long run.

Bad Karma and America Bashing

Friday, 5 July 2002

it would have been bad kar­ma to bash the amer­i­can me­dia about pa­tri­o­tism yes­ter­day so i held off un­til to­day. on my shift wednes­day night i was glanc­ing through a Time and Newsweek and mar­veled at the amount of pro­pa­gan­da that was present in the pub­li­ca­tions. This is eeri­ly like the de­vel­op­ment of the fas­cist sys­tem in Orwell’s 1984. every ar­ti­cle and many of the ad­ver­tise­ments pro­mot­ed a sort of blind un­ques­tion­ing al­le­giance to­ward new pol­i­cy and oth­er gov­ern­ment ac­tion. Patriotism it ap­pears, has reached the point where ei­ther you must sup­port every as­pect of gov­ern­ment or be in league with ter­ror­ists. i imag­ine the mc­carthy era was like this ex­cept in­stead of be­ing a pinko com­mie, you are help­ing out Islamic fa­nat­ics. the last time i checked, there wasn’t a law against this but now it ap­pears that the Patriot Bill and of­fice of Homeland Security have changed our civ­il lib­er­ties in some very fun­da­men­tal ways. That is scary enough, but when our source of ‘free’ speech ef­fec­tive­ly con­demns all naysay­ing I feel a lit­tle claus­tro­pho­bic. Why for in­stance do we need an­oth­er gov­ern­ment over­sight ad­min­is­tra­tion for the cit­i­zens, if the FBI and CIA aren’t work­ing well, then make them bet­ter, don’t cre­ate a new sys­tem. its like tak­ing a car to the junk­yard be­cause it has a flat tire and then ask­ing the GM to build you a new one from scratch. as far as i can tell, the US is los­ing the war on ter­ror­ism, be­cause the US isn’t quite the land of the free that it used to be.

as for the whole pledge of al­le­giance mum­bo­jum­bo, will the sep­a­ra­tion be­tween church and state reach the point where ‘God Bless America” is banned and re­li­gious lob­by­ists are pre­vent­ed from ex­press­ing their de­sires for new leg­is­la­tions? will re­li­gion end up be­ing banned al­to­geth­er since the USA as an en­ti­ty al­lows church­es on her soil. i can see it com­ing. dubya’s gov­ern­ment is a scary scary thing.

i’d bet­ter hop on my plane to Pakistan now since it is ob­vi­ous from the pre­vi­ous para­graphs that i am a cause of the prob­lem and not just an American ex­er­cis­ing my right to free speech. omy­god they are here al­ready, bang­ing on the door! i haven’t even post­ed yet.! big broth­er is every­where!